THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS
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This movie pits Julie Styron (played by Stockard Channing) an ambitious company executive against Paula Murphy (played by Julia Styles) an Audio-Visual assistant at Styron's company.
The movie begins with Julie walking through an airport on her way to a meeting, talking on her cell phone. In the conversation, she finds out that the CEO of her company has set up a lunch with her after the meeting. Julie is immediately suspicious and thinks that the CEO is going to fire her. She calls her secretary to set up a meeting with a headhunter to take place before her lunch with the CEO.
Julie proceeds to the meeting, but discovers that her AV assistant has not arrived. Julie ends up presenting the meeting without any materials and was just wrapping up when Paula, the assistant shows up with the equipment. Julie is irate, calls the office and has Paula fired. Julie gets into a car and drives off. Paula doesn't seem to care that she'd just been fired and mockingly waves (Queen Elizabeth style) to Julie as she drives off. Julie arrives at a hotel and checks in. She then meets with the headhunter who gives her several potential job openings. She thanks him and goes upstairs to have lunch with the CEO. It turns out that the CEO wants to move on to other things and asks Julie if she's ready to be CEO. Julie is stunned, but accepts.
Meanwhile, Paula is at the airport but finds out that her flight as been delayed until the morning. She gets on an airport shuttle bus that takes her to the same hotel that Julie is staying at.
That night, Julie is at the hotel bar when she sees Paula sitting by herself. Julie walks over, and apologises for having been harsh to Paula earlier in the day. Paula says that she doesn't care, and she's only doing the job for the money anyway. Julie finds out that Paula is stranded and offers to set her up with a room for the night.. and rescinds her earlier statement that Paula was to be fired.
Paula follows Julie to her room, and the two decide to go to the gym. During the next few hours, Paula tries to outwit, outthink and outrun Julie in various different contexts, but Julie always gains the upper hand. We also see that Julie has spent her life dedicated to her job and does not really have a life outside of the office.
They end up at the bar where they find Julie's headhunter (who was also stranded at the airport and has ended up at that hotel for the night). Paula takes one look at the headhunter and becomes very uncomfortable. Julie senses this and the two of them leave the headhunter at the bar and return to Julie's room.
Paula then tells the story of how the headhunter actually raped one of her friends in Boston a few years ago when he was a grad student. Julie gets very upset and says they have to do something about it. At that moment, the headhunter knocks on the door and asks to come in.
The two women let him in, still trying to figure out what to do with him. Paula ends up drugging him and he passes out. The two then drag him to part of the hotel that is being renovated and pulls him onto a mattress. They strip him, so that when he wakes up, he will be half naked, but won't know what he did. They also write all over his body accusing him of being a rapist.
Paula then breaks down and Julie figures out that the headhunter had raped Paula and not Paula's friend.
The two go back to the hotel room where they fall asleep.
The next morning, we see that headhunter wake up in horror at what happened. Julie wakes up to see Paula stealing money from her purse. She doesn't say anything and pretends to still be asleep.
Everyone ends up at the airport again. Julie is sitting in the waiting area when the headhunter comes by. The headhunter tries to get information out of Julie on what he ended up doing after getting to Julie's room the night before. Julie just tells him that he left the room at around 12:30. Julie then asks where the headhunter studied as a grad student. He says Ohio. Julie then asks if the headhunter had ever been to Boston. He says earlier in the year for a conference, but never before that. Julie looks over to where Paula is sitting and realizes that the whole thing the night before was one big hoax.
The headhunter congratulates Julie on the CEO position and asks her how she's feeling... Julie replies that maybe she's been doing this too long, and it's time she quit to concentrate on her own life.
The last shot we see is of Julie looking out of the airport lounge.
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